Monday, August 13, 2018

Wk.32- Greek Week

Hi All. Galileo here.

Welcome to BACKSPIN'S Salute to Greece week. It’s amazing that after waiting for a true Greek star all these years we might finally have *two.* Maria Sakkari and Stefanos Tsitsipas are both talented, young and confident. While the amount of teenagers winning slams has slowed to a trickle in the past 15 years, the rate of development from talented teenager to the establishment has not. Dominic Thiem and Alex Zverev were up-and-coming 18 months ago. A year ago Tsitsipas was still emerging. Now that he's had his break-out tournament he will be ready for a consistent spot in the top ten in about six months time.

The player who had the best results in the two-site Rogers Cup in Canada was probably Ash Barty, but it’s up to Todd to talk about her, and her excellent slice backhand. We get to talk about Tipsy and his marvelous one-hander. We have been looking for the heir to the throne of the one-handers and we have found him. Denis Shapovalov hits a nice one and so does Grigor Dimitrov, but Tipsy’s is the nicest.

This coming week we are going to see if the Bulgarian can defend his biggest title in Cincinnati.

There was a chance that the big four would be reunited in Cincy, but Nadal pulled out. Of the four, the wear on his body is probably the greatest. You can read more here. It remains to be seen if the big four will ever be seeded at a tournament again. It is very unlikely they will ever be the semi-finalists at the same event. Their stranglehold is coming to an end, even if they did win all three slams this year.

S: Rafael Nadal/ESP d. Stefanos Tsitsipas/GRE 6-2/7-6(4)
D: Henri Kontinen/John Peers (FIN/AUS) d. Raven Klaasen/Michael Venus (RSA/NZL)

...The youngest player since 2007 [Djokovic] to defeat four top ten players in a Masters tournament. The Greek has won 30 matches this year across all the surfaces. He has looked a totally new player, but old at the same time - with that flowing hair and beautiful one-hander he is like the 1980s come back to haunt us. The way he swings, freely and from the hip, the way he strikes that backhand and his swashbuckling serve are all a hark back to the golden era of tennis. Tipsy beat Damir Dzumhur 6-3, 7-6[3] to open up. Then he edged out Thiem by the same scoreline, winning 6-3, 7-6[6]. He had his first ever big win in the third round. He beat Novak Djokovic 6-3, 6-7[5], 6-3. He lost a very tight second set but came back to win anyway. That’s the mark of a true champion - winning in adversity. He edged Alex Zverev 3-6, 7-6[11], 6-4 in an absolute epic. He saved two match points. In the semi-finals he also saved a match point, edging out Kevin Anderson 6-7[4], 6-4, 7-6[7]. He managed to compete with Nadal following two exhausting matches in the final. It is another amazing feat. He turned 20 on the day he lost to Rafa. On that day he became a man. He is the world number 15, but even that feels a tad low to me.

...Yes, the party pooper himself. The Spaniard has won his 33rd Masters title. He is three ahead of Nole and six up on Federer. Of those 33 nine have come on hard courts. Of those four have come in Canada and two in Indian Wells. Djokovic has only won eight of his thirty on clay but he has a much more even spread whereas Federer and Nadal tend to dominate certain events. Nadal came in as the top seed after another extraordinary year on clay, including a billionth win at the French Open. It soon became clear this was no vacation, this was a business trip. He dismissed Benoit Paire 6-2, 6-3 in the first round before edging out Stan Wawrinka 7-5, 7-6[5] in the second. He has always had a power over the one-handed backhand. Make no mistake - the Swiss played brilliant tennis but Nadal hit top gear to take it out. Wawrinka had three break points at 4-4 in the first but soon found himself down 5-6 and then the heavens opened. He could not hold on, probably because of his lack of matches recently. Nadal got up 7-5, 2-0 before Stan came roaring back. He served for it at 5-4 but couldn’t get it. Check this out:

Nadal then edged Marin Cilic in three tight sets, in a match he should have lost. After that he beat Karen Khachanov 7-6[3], 6-4. The Russian came at him with form and nothing to lose but the Spaniard held firm. In the final he was up against a one-hander and that was always going to mean a win. He did it 6-2, 7-6[3].

It included this moment of incredible sportsmanship. Memories from Tim Smyczek perhaps, Todd?

Anyway, the effort of winning this tournament has taken its toll. In order to be prepared for the U.S. Open he has chosen to skip Cincy and will not compete until Flushing Meadows. The top ranking will be on the line there, though Federer is pretty far back. Both Nadal and the Swiss are likely to confirm their spot in London. Rafa has already done so. So we shall see him next in New York.

Speaking of Paire check this out.
FRESH FACE: FELIX AUGER-ALIASSIME, CAN ...Félix Auger-Aliassime is a name you are going to have to get used to mispronouncing. He is a very talented player who has been to two slam finals as a junior in singles and went to three in doubles. His partner was Denis Shapovalov. He went 2-3 in those five, but in the 2016 French Open final he did lose 8-6. In last week’s tournament he beat Lucas Pouille 6-4, 6-3 before almost beating Daniil Medvedev. The Russian edged the match 3-6, 6-4, 7-6[7].

..Youzhny has a 13-16 record at the Rogers Cup. He has been to the third round only three times despite playing every year since 2003. He only has six quarterfinal appearances, where he is 0-6, at Masters level. His overall record at this level is 79-110. It hardly inspires confidence, does it? In 2003 he lost to Rainer Shuttler, seeded eighth, who beat Yevgeny Kafelnikov in the next round. The German beat top seed Agassi in the quarters but lost to Nalbandian in the next round. Andy Roddick beat the Argentine comfortably in the final. Guga Kuerten and Nikolay Davydenko also played in that tournament. James Blake and Radek Stepanek played each other in the first round. Blake won and didn’t drop a set. Carlos Moya, Tim Henman, Fernando Gonzalez, Lleyton Hewitt, Paradorn Shrichapan, a young Robredo, Gaston Gaudio, Sebastien Grosjean, Roger Federer, JC Ferrero and Mardy Fish. That is a list of players who played that tournament. Only Federer and Youzhny are left, I think. Well, there are a couple of guys still playing in doubles, but you get the point - Youzhny is a real veteran now.
...from 2015 to ‘16 Mate Pavic and Michael Venus were partners. It was a good arrangement - they made 11 finals and won five, albeit at 250 level. Now that they have split both have seen their careers take an upturn. Mate Pavic has become world number one and found himself in three slam finals, winning one and losing another in heartbreaking fashion. Raven Klaasen has floated around but played most of his career with Rajeev Ram, though he did make a slam final with Eric Butorac. He also went 5-6 with his partner in 11 finals. They won in Indian Wells and made finals in Miami and at the WTF. Since they split in June last year Ram has floated around, unable to find consistent success. Despite going 1-3 in finals Klaasen//Venus have begun what looks like an awesome partnership. A heart-breaking loss at Wimbledon, 7-5 in the 5th, a final this past week in Toronto and victory in Moselle have all been highlights. The pair beat Sitak/Tsitsipas in straight sets in the first round. Then they edged Kubot/Melo 6-3, 5-7, 1-0 [11-9]. In the quarters they beat M.Bryan and Sock 7-6[5], 6-4. Then they came back to see off top seeds Pavic/Marach 4-6, 7-6[5], 1-0 [10-3]. They are establishing their case to play in the WTF this year. They lost the final to Kontinen/Peers, but it is a great way to get some confidence for Cincy and New York.

...What has David Goffin done all year? He has no titles. He struggled in Melbourne and Paris, where he traditionally does well, and now he has lost in the first round to Milos Raonic 6-3, 6-4. The Canadian is talented, yes, but he’s barely inside the world’s top 30. Goffin is good enough to make a run at the U.S. Open. Instead he lost to a player who then went and lost to Frances Tiafoe 6-1 in the third. The Belgian has had a pretty awful year and his ranking of #11, which is down from #7, is beginning to reflect in his decline. He still has time to turn it around but he is 23rd in the race, a spot behind Raonic. Two quarterfinals at the Masters events, both on clay, is not enough to redeem his results this year. Not by a long shot. He has to get better.
...Khachanov is the one gun nobody really talks about. He has that Davydenko quality about him - a top player but one you always forget about. His rise has been steadier, which means he can maintain a top 20 ranking more easily. He is currently ranked a career high #27 in the world. He is going to be a high seed at one of next year’s slams. He has had three slam fourth rounds, two in Paris and one in London, and picked up two titles. He had never been beyond the third round of a Masters before this week. Now he has and, even better, his first third round appearance was in Cincinnati. If he can do well there he could go into the U.S. Open with a shot at finally breaking the top 16. He started by dismissing Filip Krajinovic 6-3, 6-2. Then he upset Pablo Carrena Busta 6-4, 7-6[3]. He beat Wimbledon semi-finalist Isner in the third round 7-6[5], 7-6[0]. In the quarters, Robin Haase proved to be no trouble at all and the Russian took the match going away 6-3, 6-1. In the semi, delayed by rain, Nadal edged the youngster 7-6[3], 6-4. Still, it was an excellent tournament from the Russian and he is setting himself up for a big year in 2019.


1. TOR QF - TSITSIPAS d. ZVEREV 3-6, 7-6[11], 6-4
...This BACKSPINNER loves a clash of styles. And they don’t get more clashy than this. The German with his solid game took on the spinny and floaty Greek. Zverev should have won in two. He should have won in three. But down 4-5 he could not hold on in the third. The rallies and intensity of the match made it an instant classic. Go and watch it now.
2. TOR 2ND - MEDVEDEV d. FELIX A.A. 3-6, 6-4, 7-6[7]
...An intense match between two rising stars, qualifier Medvedev just edged out the Canadian. FAA had a 4-1 lead in the third set. He even had a 4-1 lead in the breaker. But it ended up being a heartbreaker. It’s a harsh lesson to learn, but it is good he learn it now.

3. TOR QF - NADAL d. CILIC 2-6, 6-4, 6-4
...At his very best Marin Cilic can beat anyone. The problem is he cannot sustain his best over long matches. He should have won so many of these matches but he can never keep his level high enough for long enough. He should have maybe won this but he allowed Nadal to grind him down in three epic sets. It took almost two and a half hours but the Spaniard won. The handshake was a bit frosty though.
...How good a player has the South African turned into? Not only did he achieve his seeding but he did so by smacking Dimitrov into next week. The Bulgarian had owned the rivalry 6-1 but 12 aces and a dominant return game [48 per cent of return points won] saw it get a little closer.

Alex Zverev d. Grigor Dimitrov
Roger Federer. J.M Del Potro

...Nole is in the top half but he has looked beatable for most of this year. Dimitrov will be playing as the defending champion and in this case it should be a confidence boost. Federer could run into Murray early but in their last five meetings he has dropped but a single set. In their four meetings at this event none have gone to three and Murray has beaten Fed just once - 12 years ago.

Alex Zverev d. Roger Federer

...Federer will be the pick to finally win a 6th U.S. Open. He is gunning to be the only man to win three slams six times, but here Zverev will get the best of him.

Oh, and...

Thanks all.

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